Review Summary: the musical equivalent of homeopathic medicine.
"No. No, no. No.
That's the transcript of my initial reaction to this record. It would be impossible to express exactly how I felt, as "No" was the only word I felt I could physically say. Perhaps it was an over-reaction. After all, it appears fairly harmless. It's just soft post-black metal with pseudo-sentimental lyrics about longing (but not really longing for anything) with a few folk instruments and clean vocals. What could be so offensively bad about that" This is an album that shows you just how bad it is the deeper you go into it. After seriously listening to this album, you just feel sick to the stomach. Most of the awful things would go right over your head if you just heard it in the background, be it how totally meaningless the lyrics are or all the full songs being almost exactly the same in structure - or anything else, take your pick because there's plenty to choose from.
Falloch's debut album, Where Distant Spirits Remain
, is everything that is wrong with this kind of music. Even if you analyse the song titles, it's doing everything wrong as far as truly compelling music is concerned. Just look at the album title. It looks nice, doesn't it" Sure. But think about that for a second and you'll come to the same conclusion as all of us - it means absolutely nothing
. Nothing on this album does. Everything on this album is a cheap, horrible attempt at trying to sucker an emotional response when there's absolutely nothing there to begin with. The unfortunate thing is it's working, people are getting sucked in by it - which is okay. After all, music is to be enjoyed as opposed to being thought of too hard. But when the band and its fans pretty it up to seem like it's some kind of enlightening, epiphany inducing miracle, lines must be drawn.
Ultimately everything about this record just screams tacky, from the lyrics to the production. Every last sound on this record scrubbed clean of any personality or impact by studio over-production, which totally kills any soul-stirring moments from the only bits that had any potential at all. Be it the nice flute part in "Beyond Embers and the Earth", or the sombre piano outro "Horizons", the Scottish bodhrán, the flute or the pipes. It just sounds too digital and soulless to pull off anything the record tries to accentuate. The whole record is totally tainted from it, and especially when folk instruments are involved, it's just totally unforgivable. It doesn't sound natural enough to accentuate such nice instruments. Even the acoustic guitars sound too clean, thin and tinny. The more "metal" bits are just as studio-tainted, you can even hear where they looped most of the riffs, everything just sounding totally soulless.
But even that's not so bad if the music's good. But it's not remarkable, compelling or even pleasant. The complaints would stop there if it wasn't for Falloch trying to dress this up as something far more than it actually is. The album weaves through mid-tempo Alcest-like verses and occasionally going through blast beats with no impact with the most predictable builds imaginable. The drums are almost lethargic, being so unremarkable and only barely carrying everything else. The guitars are played well but they forget to play anything interesting and just don't sound as if a human is playing them. The vocals sound like something you'd here in a modern emo or alternative rock band, but again, studio-scrubbed clean with steel wool - and we didn't need vocals like this any cleaner. They aren't awful (apart from one moment in track 5 where it's totally out of key, but that happens) but they are so high in the mix and obnoxiously clean that they're impossible to ignore if you don't like them - and many won't like them. What's more is what they're singing is just as annoying and obnoxiously clean. They're the kind of silly clichés you'd expect from a 12 year old who's listened to Écailles de lune too many times to come up with. Read this and analyse it.
"Your soul is as deep as the sea,
When you reach to the depths you'll be free,
Close your eyes, drift away, silently"
Cute. I actually put those lyrics next to a bunch of Owl City lyrics and there was almost no difference. A cheap shot" I'd agree if all the lyrics weren't like this. Every writer has his/her blunders, but every lyric is exactly like this. Some are just sickeningly cute, some are totally nonsensical (or totally contradictory. "When stars fall asleep behind the tired sun", but the sun is a star...") and the rest are both. Slather all of the above on predictable song structures, and that's this album. This is probably what you would get if you threw an Alcest album into the ocean, waited a year and then made an album from a cup of water from the ocean. It's the music equivalent of homoeopathic medicine. When all is said and done, there's just nothing left to take from this album that is in any way redeemable. One could argue that it's a good gateway into modern post-black metal, but would you really want to get them started on what is possibly one the most contrived albums in the genre" It has the emotional depth of a teaspoon and the predictability of a seesaw. It isn't recommendable to pretty much anyone.